While the 2015 Mazda Mazda5 minivan doesn't offer many of the features of bigger vans, it's significantly less expensive, and its small size means it will easily slip into parking spots that bigger vans will have to pass by. That said, it is its low price of entry that primarily contributes to the Mazda5's status as the lowest cost-to-own van on our list.
Small size isn't just a characteristic of the Mazda5, it defines it. The Mazda5 has an either-or philosophy to carrying people and cargo: you can maximize its 6-passenger capacity, or you can fold down the rear seats for extra cargo room, but there's very little storage space behind the third row if you decide to accommodate six people.
The 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission do a decent job getting the little van moving, although it's handily outmuscled by larger vans with V6 engines, and fuel economy isn't quite as good as you might hope for. Regardless, the Mazda5 is genuinely fun to drive, boasting all the zippy personality we associate with Mazda's other vehicles.
Despite its excellent cost-to-own score and other characteristics, the Mazda5 minivan has struggled to find a consistent audience in the U.S., and this will be its last year in this market. That's too bad, as we think it's the perfect alternative for a lot of people who will likely wind up in a compact sport utility or some other vehicle that doesn't have the versatility of this little van. Our advice: get it while you can.